EU gave subsidies worth 18 billion dollars to Airbus: US

18th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The EU provided at least 18 billion dollars (13.1 billion euros) in illegal subsidies to aviation giant Airbus, the United States charged Thursday at a WTO appeal hearing on the issue.

"We are here today because the panel in this dispute found that the European Union and certain member states -- France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom -- gave massive subsidies for the development and production of Airbus large civil aircraft," a US statement said.

"These payments together amounted to at least 18 billion dollars," it added.

When it first launched the complaint against the EU at the World Trade Organization in 2004, the United States charged that Brussels had provided unfair subsidies worth up to 200 billion dollars to Airbus.

These subsidies included the alleged subsidies provided by individual EU member states.

In a 1,200-page ruling made public in June on Washington's complaint, the WTO asked EU states to halt some aid for the development and export of Airbus airliners.

It notably accepted three out of seven claims by Washington that key launch aid amounted to export subsidies which are illegal under WTO rules.

WTO arbitrators also found that 21 instances of support granted to Airbus for the launch of the its A300 aircraft series -- the company's commercial fleet -- amounted to subsidies as the interest rates levied were charged at below market rate.

Both Washington and Brussels have appealed against the ruling.

Europe has submitted a counter case to the WTO, charging that Airbus rival Boeing has also benefitted from billions of dollars in illegal subsidies.

© 2010 AFP

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